Upstream Issues

Upstream Issues

I heard someone telling a story recently about how they were working in fish conservation and checking on clean water in rivers and streams in the UK.  Apparently they found an area of a stream where the fish were struggling for oxygen and dying. Workers then take out any dead fish and then it’s apparently possible to push oxygen into the water, often the water agencies do this by, as the Environment Agency says, pouring Hydrogen Peroxide into the water upstream. This releases extra Oxygen into the water. Such action appears to somewhat reduced the potential fish kill.

Of course you can keep doing this sort of thing, but of course what is really happening is that you are dealing with an event like an illness or a tragedy that sometime keeps occurring, you put it right but then later on it appears again.  Often in the case of the fish dying, checking up stream you discover that there is a factory that periodically discharges its waste into the stream and this waste is toxic or depletes the oxygen in the water thus killing the fish.  So it is better to deal with the cause of the upstream issue rather than the results the downstream of fish dying.

It seems to me that this is often the case in our society at large.  We deal with the results and never think about the cause.  Now I know it’s not the whole answer but in this country we constantly hear we are short of houses, when you ask people what is the upstream issue they will tell you it’s immigration; Now I am sure that is true to some extent but is there another factory upstream creating the need?  What I would like to ask, happens when people get divorced? Oh yes there is often the trauma for the couple, definitely for any children involved, but then housing do they still live in the same house or are now two houses needed?

Now I think there are lots of upstream issues in our world that I think we need to look upstream to really help rather than just sticking plaster on the hurt at the point where the upstream issue has impacted.  Let’s think about some of the things we are reacting too.  What about the current government tax receipts shortages, are the upstream factories putting poison into the system?

At the moment we have more children coming into the care system than ever before, 2014 hit the highest need for Foster Carers for children than ever, we are doing our best with help and plasters, but is there an upstream issue we should be looking at?  In 2013 there were 68,110 children in the care system costing the taxpayer £2.5 Billion. The predicted increase in 2014 is said to be around 7%.  Will it go up again in 2015 are we dealing only with symptoms or is someone looking upstream and if so what is the cause?

According to the National Statistic office these figures are continuing to rise:
Number of children looked after at 31st march each year:
  • ·        2010 64,470
  • ·         2011 65,500
  • ·         2012 67,070
  • ·         2013 68,060
  • ·         2014 68,840

So I have picked up on just a couple of areas of our society and I am asking the question – its great and necessary to care, and to deal with symptoms, just like we would care in any situation such as a road accident for example, but it would be better to put things in place to stop the accident happening if we could, surely we should try and examine the upstream issues – don’t you think?

Adrian Hawkes
w. 701
Edited by Gena Areola

Another Upstream Issue
The report is yet another example of the way that the practical action of the churches has been combined with a prophetic role in speaking out against structural injustice.  This is the synthesis we should always be looking for – compassion and justice – so that we continue to help people who are drowning in the river, but we also go upstream and find out who is pushing them in.

By John Kurt in Resistance and Renewal speaking about food banks and their need

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